FORT HOOD, Texas - After going through multiple checks to ensure that the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was ready for takeoff, Soldiers directed the grey, fixed wing machine toward the open field.

This was all in a day's work for troopers of Alpha Company's Tactical Unmanned Aerial System, 4th Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division as they conducted UAV training at Landing Strip Cold Range March 12.

The training focused Soldiers on becoming more proficient with the equipment and going through the procedures required to launch and retrieve the aerial vehicle.

"We go through training to get the repetition down," said Sgt. Antonio Mccloud, an unmanned aerial vehicle maintainer from St. Louis, Mo. "We need to know how to do it quick and on our own because when we deploy, it can be strenuous."

The UAV does more than just collect data; it also acts as a Soldier in the sky.

"We're the commander's eyes on the battlefield," said Spc. Stephen Rayleigh, an unmanned aerial field operator from Troup, Texas.

The same way Soldiers rely on the equipment they use, UAV operators rely on their aircraft to not only help their fellow Soldiers but to also help accomplish the mission.

"We try and support troops on the ground as much as possible, said Rayleigh

Since Dec., the crews have had 25 days of flight action; approximately eight hours of day and night flight training.

The Spartan troops took extra precaution ensuring that the main landing gear stayed operational by keeping the UAV clean and performing all the mandatory inspections before the aerial vehicle could be considered ready to take flight into the sky.

"The pre-flight inspection is critical to a safe flight," said Sgt. Derrick Defrancisco, a helicopter electrician from San. Jose, California.

With many of the Soldiers being new, the training helped them prepare for their upcoming deployment this fall.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16